The body and mind are intrinsically connected. While Western medicine treats the body as a group of separate parts that function independently of one another, the truth is that our bodies are holistic organisms that need attention paid to the entire biological system as opposed to its various parts. This includes the mind and emotions, which can benefit from a holistic, nutritional approach to self-care.
When it comes to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress, your diet can greatly help these conditions by decreasing your symptoms and putting you on a quicker path to recovery.
The Body-Mind Connection
Your body is not a series of separate systems that operate independently. Instead, all of your body’s systems are intertwined, controlled by the brain and nervous system. In fact, multiple scientific studies have shown just how strong a connection there is between the body and mind.
How Emotions Affect Biology
Once thought to be purely emotional, it turns out stress has significant physiological effects on the body. When people are put in a situation they perceive as threatening, they experience what is known as the stress response. While the stress response begins in the brain, it quickly spreads to the rest of the body, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. When you continuously have high levels of stress hormones, your body is affected, especially your glucose metabolism, blood pressure regulation, immune function, and inflammation. This is why stress and heart disease are firmly linked.
How Biology Affects Emotions
If your emotions can affect your biology, then it makes sense that the opposite can happen as well, and biology can affect emotions. While we used to think depression and anxiety were only about mental and emotional health, scientists have come to realize that mental health conditions are biological.
According to University of Massachusetts Medical School Professor Anthony J. Rothschild, depression involves many biological factors including neurotransmitter levels, receptor malfunction, and chemical balance. Literally, when you are depressed, your brain’s biology is not working correctly: either the chemicals are out of balance or something is not functioning correctly. Medicine for depression helps fix these issues in the brain and relieve depression in patients.
Food as Medication
If medicines can help your depression, can the way you eat have a similar effect? Many foods do affect the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, increasing levels of chemicals that your brain is low on when you suffer from depression and anxiety. Also, depression and anxiety bring symptoms of fatigue and stress along with them. Eating foods that help those symptoms make it easier to get through a depressive episode or seek help through medication and therapy.
Eating for Mental Health
How can you eat to combat depression and anxiety? Here are some suggestions.
1. Eat a healthy, plant-based diet.
If your body chemistry is off, chances are your brain chemistry is, as well. Not only that but when you physically feel terrible, it can negatively affect your emotional state.
Eating a plant-based diet like the one I outline in The Beauty Detox Solution will help you create the ideal environment in your body for vibrant good health. Additionally, the diet offers foods for energy that can help combat other problems that may lead to anxiety or depression, including exhaustion, body aches, and excess weight.
READ THE BEAUTY DETOX SOLUTION
LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST EPISODE ON PLANT-BASED EATING
2. Cut out the chemicals and eat organic.
Human beings were not meant to eat all of the chemicals we consume in the form of additives, preservatives, artificial flavorings, and artificial colorings. All of these ingredients increase toxicity in our bodies, which can affect both mental and physical health.
3. Choose hormone-free foods.
If you’re eating dairy, eggs, or animal proteins, then chances are you’re also eating the hormones and antibiotics ranchers use to increase growth, improve milk production, and keep the animals from getting sick. Hormonal imbalances can significantly affect mental health, so avoiding foods that probably contain them can help you avoid this problem.
4. Avoid caffeine and sugar.
These stimulants may give you a little kick of energy to start, but they ultimately drain your serotonin, which is a necessary “feel-good” brain chemical.
Learn how to get more energy without coffee.
5. Eat a varied diet of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to stress, tension, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. By selecting a variety of colorful plant foods, you can ensure you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal mental and physical health.
6. Cut out gluten grains.
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. It is also present in many other foods such as soy sauce. For many people who are sensitive to gluten, consuming it causes a reaction that damages the nutrient absorbing villi in the small intestines. This hampers the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which can lead to significant nutritional deficiencies.
7. Eat healthy fats.
With such an emphasis on “fat-free” and “low-fat” in Western food culture, many people fail to realize that fat plays an important role in our bodies. It assists in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fatty acids also play a significant role in brain health. In fact, a 2007 study showed just how important fatty acids were when researchers showed a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and protection against Parkinson’s disease. The trick is in obtaining the right types of fats for good mental health. These include fats in raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and coconut oil. Eat plenty of these foods to protect your overall brain health, particularly those containing Omega-3 fats like chia and flaxseeds.
Make sure you’re getting all the nutrients from your food. Help your digestion with Solluna’s Feel Good Digestive Enzymes.
BOOST YOUR DIGESTION WITH ENZYMES
8. Support your thyroid.
Low thyroid function is linked to depression, while high thyroid function is linked to anxiety. Providing thyroid support is essential for maintaining good health. Coconut oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, and sea vegetables all contain nutrients that support thyroid health.
9. Get vitamin D.
According to the Vitamin D Council, low serum levels of vitamin D can lead to anxiety or depression. Many people can get the vitamin D they need from the sun; however, in some northern locations or in the winter, vitamin D levels go down. Consider supplementing vitamin D for optimal mental health, and try to spend at least 10-20 minutes in the sunlight without sunscreen each day. While overdoing sun exposure can lead to issues like skin cancer, in small doses, there is a lot of healing power in the natural light of the sun.
10. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol serves as a depressant and can heighten depression and anxiety. If you suffer from these conditions, limit or cut out alcoholic beverages altogether.
Our collection of recipes gives you plenty of options for healthy, plant-based, and/or organic dishes, smoothies, and treats for your diet.
Better Mental Health – The Natural Way
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, there are natural steps you can take to supplement your other treatment methods. Eating better will not only boost your energy and mood so you can fight for your mental wellness, but it can also directly help your brain function properly.
Following a plant-based diet and ensuring adequate intake of Omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals may just put you on the path to better mental health, and more overall wellness and beauty.
Thanks so much for this post! Living in the Northwest, it is so difficult to get vitamin D during these winter months. Do you have any supplements that you could recommend? I found Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw D3 5000 IU capsules that I was thinking about getting, but I’m not sure if they are a good source of vitamin D…
Hi Ashley, that is a good brand. xx
Why does sugar “ultimately deplete serotonin”? I have read elsewhere that eating a LOT of fruit has helped many people with depression because it raised their serotonin levels and made more glucose available to the brain. Is that not accurate?
As always wonderful post! I’d been having your GGS for a year or so before I read your book a few months ago and it changed my life! I thought I could start in Radiant beauty but realized I should probably jump back to Blossoming, I’ve been following blossoming to a tee (or as close as I possibly can as a busy college student) It has not been hard but I’ve just had to be prepared and manage my time etc. I miss fruit and my GGS so I’m eager to make it to the next phase, but want to make sure all possible candida issues are gone. …nervous to transition…hoping it’s been long enough…
Thank you for everything here are some concerns I have. I’m terrified for slipping up… having gluten or sugar etc. Your tips for traveling are so helpful as are your eating out guides, any ideas for when your have to go to a dinner party at someone’s home or being a house guest when visiting or traveling? or eating out at a mexican restaurant or somewhere with few BDS choices?
Also, I’m eating probiotic and enzyme salad, taking all our supplements, lemon water first thing etc but still struggle with constipation, any thoughts?
I struggle with thyroid issues so I know that is related (don’t worry am avoiding soy at all costs)
Thanks for everything! : )
I am writing out a full guide while will be very helpful for you in restaurants. For dinner parties, try bringing the Chickpea-less Hummus as an appetizer and the Turmeric-Veggie Quinoa, or one of the other such recipes.
The Mag Oxy should help with constipation. Have you tried any enemas?
oh my goodness! Thank you so much for the response, I didn’t see this until now! Mag-07 definitely helped with my constipation issue, although things are not perfect there. Never tried enemas but would love to! Is that a better option than colonics that you talk about in BDS? Which would be better? I’ll look into it!
also, when do you eat your chlorella tablets? should they be eaten on an empty stomach only? I know they’re our emergency food, but still figuring our the best way to incorporate!
Thank you again for everything!
I’ve suffered with depression for 20yrs. & tried drinking the Green Smoothie for 2 weeks & felt much better. Thanks!!
I am so thankful I found your book, as it has undoubtedly helped me physically & mentally. My body is starting to feel more balanced and I have developed a much better relationship with food. I follow your book very closely, and truly trust your opinion when it comes to anything health related – which is why it is very important to me that I ask your opinion on reducing high copper levels. I am currently taking vit c, b6, zinc, molybdenum, but would love any advice from yourself, dietary or otherwise. I believe I am also still struggling with a candida issue. I’m eating greens & raw rolled oat cereal for breakfast and have been for 4 months or so. I would like to know when you think I should swap to the GGS? I did try it for a month, but the fruit seemed to intensify my sugar cravings. I would be so grateful for a reply, as I would like to be sure I’m heading in the right direction to better balance for my mind & body.
Try the GGS, but just use 1 green apple and liquid stevia to sweeten- forgo the other fruit. xx
Thank you so much for your reply Kimberly. I am very appreciative 🙂 Looking forward to your new book too!!! Thank you for everything – Your book has helped me so much!!! Julia x
Can you please share more on getting vitamin d and also the help that calcium plays in the D
Hi Kimberly, thank you for your amazing advice. I bought your book and have been doing radiant beauty for 2 weeks now. I love it. I was wondering if you could help me with some advise for my 17 year old son. He has blackheads/acne. What products, cleansers and treatments do you recommend? Thank you so much.
If it’s just blackheads, he definitely needs to spend more time washing his face. Check out some of the products I like in Kim’s Picks- like the Sally B line. If the acne is more involved, check out triggers in his diet, and my blogs on acne. xx
Dr. Oz recently suggested PGX daily to help sugar levels. What are your thoughts on that? I’ve read that it assists in helping to cut out alcohol as well.
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Hey Kimberly, just wondered..I have anemia, could you possibly do a post about the foods to increase iron absorption? I’m on iron supplements and they are making me constipated..(sorry for the deets), I’m worried I’m not getting enough iron with just a green based diet and no meat so i’ve had to incorporate meat and eggs once a week.
Thankyou for sharing all your information with us!
Actually, anemia can affect a lot of meat-eaters as well. Vitamin C helps non-heme iron (plant-based) iron absorb better, which is why I always include lemon in the GGS, for added vitamin C.
I have never had a problem with a heavily greens-based diet and iron, but everyone’s constitution is different and I don’t know your entire diet. Try adding more sea vegetables and legumes, such as lentils (soak overnight first), if you are concerned.xx
Hello Kimberly I have been eating very, very, close, but not quite vegetarian, but, I am getting there, just still working on a few foods I am having a hard time giving up. In this article you have a lot of different things , like wheat oats, barley, so what are you supposed to eat. I do like bread on some things, what do you make sandwiches with, or eat peanut butter on? It would be a great help to find out what to use, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to replace bread with. Or pizza crust? Things like that, or even crackers, I am allergic to nuts, dairy, and citrus, so I have to be careful what eat. Mostly I eat fruits and vegetables, but, still fighting the good fight to get a few things out of my diet. I don’t drink milk, but, was using rice milk, now because of the arsenic in brown rice I am thinking I shouldn’t drink that either, cannot do soy, I take hormones, not regular dairy, not almond milk, cocoanut milk sounds good but has a lot of trans fats, and I have high cholesterol. So any advice about any of these things I would greatly appreciate. As I am trying to eat the best I can for my health, and I just love your website. I do the green smoothie things also, so again any advice would be helpful. Thank you Kimberly. Vicki
Try Millet bread, which is in the frozen section of health stores like Wholefoods. I put almond butter on celery sticks or sometimes slather it across romaine hearts. I like the brown rice wraps that are also in the health stores. Try Mary’s Gone Crackers, which are made of flaxseed and brown rice. Coconut milk is excellent and I consume it often- it is made up of medium chain fatty acids and is actually cholesterol-free. It is saturated animal fat that contains foreign cholesterol. I greatly prefer it and think it is much more beneficial than rice milk- which often contains polyunsaturated vegetable oils. xx
Do you know how long it takes for Gluten to get completly out of your system. I have given it up, but still not feeling any better??
Could take a little while. Also, besides just giving it up, be sure to eat Probiotic & Enzyme Salad and follow my other suggestions in The Beauty Detox Solution to help your system rebuild. xx
Hi Kim, I love your amazing book and blog. I’ve gotten a few pounds heaver since I started BDS phase blossoming beauty and I wonder is that normal? I have candida and would like to know if coconut crystals are ok as a sweetner? Thank you very much for your inspiration.
Thanks Kimberly for your advice, I just had lentils for dinner 😉
I can’t get any sugar free almond milk nearby so i’ve been drinking sugar free oat milk, what are your thoughts? The brand is Oatly and it’s just oat water and salt and added vitamins. Also, do you have any interesting ways of using Maca powder?
Its really really easy to make fresh almond milk, I just soak mine overnight then tip them into my smoothie machine with a cup of water and whiz! Then I use Kims acai recipe for a yummy protein after noon shake 🙂
blue diamond makes a fantastic unsweetened almond milk that i am pretty sure is in most stores, and on amazon.
it’s a 12 pack and the boxes are good size.
nvm, the shipping is atrocious. just make your own! 🙂
Im from New Zealand and cant get enough of your blog! I just bought your book and am so excited to read through it! I have also been saving all the notes and tips you make in your blogs, though im hoping a lot will be in your book anyway 🙂
Question, Do you also keep your nuts and seeds refrigerated? And what about coconut oil?I also leave my bee pollen and kelp powder refrigerated also..
I am trying to stick with a healthier diet. I have your book and I am trying so hard to be a Blossoming Beauty but I am terrible at it. I am trying to switch from eggs and cheese for breakfast, a love of hot dogs and saur kraut for lunch, and hamburger helper for dinner… :-/ I started eating healthy with rolled grains for breakfast, open avo sandwich for most lunches and veggies at dinner. I have been trying to stick with it for 2 weeks but I feel like a crack addict for junk food! I am staring at a lovely salad which I cannot convince myself to eat. I feel anxious and unable to focus. I really want something salty or something sweet. Drive thru French Fries and some chocolate are specifically what I’m craving. I don’t know what to do. Do I cave and eat junk from time to time until I get this under control or do I try my best to go cold turkey?
Research and try a diet that addresses reactive hypoglycemia.You sound like me 10 months ago.Craving for junk food!.I changed my diet over a period of six months and was amazed at the changes to my mood and energy.I’m a forty five year old male,who has dealt with depression and anxiety since childhood.Went to numerous Dr’s,was prescribed drugs,always struggled with side effects,never was happy with the results.My depression has disappeared!,I still can’t believe it and I’m so relieved.Unfortunately I’m still dealing with anxiety,so trying to figure that out now.
Hi Kimberly, I have read your book, but I’m still wondering about when to eat fruit. I understand I should eat it on an empty stomach, but is it best eaten between the GGS & lunch? Can I wait for an hour an have as a snack after lunch or dinner? There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day for fruit, lol! Also, I can’t find a gluten-free bread without sugar. Do you know of any or have a recipe. I wouldn’t mind making it myself. Thanks & love your book!
I’m having a very difficult time finding a good Probiotic and Magnesium Oxygen supplement. Any recommendations (product name or site)? Thanks in advance…
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Another excellent article. Thank you!
One other thing for everyone — make sure you’re getting sufficient B12.
Someone who isn’t a regular reader and doesn’t intend to become one doesn’t have anything to lose, in their mind.
Please have being stress lately and am feeling depressed and lossind weight. I find it difficult to eat too. What should I do?
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Anxiety is a big problem for all of you should be think and solve it. In here are good tips for us to follow. Thanks for these tips!
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Hi,I havebeen taking HRT for the last 18 months due to an early start to the menopause, I have not felt right on and off for a long time, hot flushes, cold night sweats, mood swings, joint aches and pains, emotional. In the last few weeks I have been increasingly emotional and anxious which in the last 10 days has turned into panic attacks and low mood, depression. Struggling to eat, feel week, dry mouth, lack of sleep etc etc. I have found it easier to drink a smoothie than eat. Any suggestions please on good things to include in my diet that might help or other options?
Great article! Gut and mind connection – wished i knew it earlier.
Depression is very real. I suffered with it for many years and was relying on medication (Effexor) for the last 15 years to help me cope. Recently I decided that I wanted to come off this but it has some extremely strong withdrawal symptoms, so I’m transitioning to new medication. I’m hoping that the dietary suggestions you’ve specified will be a big help. I’m already supplementing with Vitamin D, along with a high quality fish oil. I’ll keep you posted on my results. Thanks for the insights!!
Great Avei…let me know how it goes. Hoping for positive results for you. Sending lots of love and support! 😉
Your article is very good.
However , the picture of a neatly dressed woman sitting at a clean kitchen table is not realistic.
Put some overdue bills on the table , combined with other papers , and a pile of dirty dishes…… THEN that would look realistic. Also grease her hair to look like she hadn’t taken a shower in a week , and add some sloppy clothes or a housecoat.
Other than for my negative comment above….( I am just so tired of seeing happy people portrayed in depression articles.)
But your article is good. I especially liked the ” meats ” part. I just read how many GMO’s are in our store bought meats. It was suggested to research local meat providers , and get our milk , cheese , and meat there.
I was surprised to learn many of the so-called ” healthy ” cheeses at the supermarket contain a lot of unhealthy things.